SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Sept. 11 // -- Different sectors have reacted with outrage about what they value as "a persistent, unfair and slanderous" defamation campaign the English-Spanish priest Christopher Hartley Sartorius has maintained related to the treatment given to Haitian workers in sugar industries.
The Dominican Ambassador in Belgium, Alejandro Gonzalez Pons, has stated that Father Hartley's campaign is "foolish," and pretends to "condemn this country in some international legal-political court under the accusation of violating human rights. With this campaign, based on distortion and bad intentions, he wants the European Union to impose sanctions to the Dominican Republic under the European Economic Association, better known as EPA," expressed Ambassador Gonzalez Pons /pr/2009-UNAZUCAR.pdf)
Last August, while visiting Santo Domingo, Haitian Presidential candidate Senator Rudolph Henry Boulos thanked the authorities and people of the Dominican Republic "for the acceptance, protection and well treatment" of the immigrants of his country which total, as he said, almost 2 million. The Dominican population, according to the latest census, has about 9.5 million (HOY Newspaper / August 29, 2009).
In a statement to Listin Diario, a local newspaper, the president of the Federation of Dominican Sugar Settlers (FEDOCA as its initials in Spanish), Bernardo Diaz, said that all the complaint reports that the priest has made in Europe have the purpose of affecting sugar exports to this market, which nowadays total 30,000 tons of sugar (Listin Diario Newspaper / August 28, 2009).
El Nuevo Diario, another independent newspaper, published an article on August 28th accusing Hartley of "preaching over the years a gospel of hate" against the Dominican Republic (Nuevo Diario Newspaper / August 28, 2009).
"As a consequence of this hatred campaign of Christopher Hartley Sartorius," the newspaper said in an article signed by Ramon A. Cabral, "hostility has sprout[ed] everywhere and confrontations are frequent," as it has occurred already in different communities near the border, where citizens of both countries have collided, leaving behind dead and injured people.
In the past weeks, the Senate, the Department of State and several Dominican Ambassadors answered accusations the priest has made in an effort to ruin the economy and reputation of this country /pr/2009-UNAZUCAR-2.pdf).
Anibal De Castro, Ambassador to the United Kingdom, said in London that the Hartley campaign has failed. For the past five years since the designation, President Leonel Fernandez has instructed him to closely follow "the international perception about Haitian immigration to the country and the respect of their rights" (Listin Diario Newspaper / August 24, 2009).
The sugar industry in Dominican Republic is employing fewer Haitians workers each year and the dependence on foreign labor will tend to disappear as the mechanization of the harvest continues. Moreover, it is estimated that in the highest period of the harvest, the sugar industry employs only 12,000 workers, mostly Haitians.
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